Photography tips – adding texture to a photo

There’s a new game in town!  It’s called texture and it’s FUN!

Basically, what your are doing is taking a photograph of an interesting texture, overlaying it on top of your existing picture and reducing the opacity of it so the original shows through.  Adding textures to your photos is another thing that would require you to have Photoshop or any other photo program that allows you to add layers, adjust the opacity, erase and colorize.

Creating a textured photo can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be.  You can take just one texture, drag it onto your photo, reduce opacity and you are done.  You can also add many different textures, manipulate the photo underneath, use different brushes to add effects, etc.  The more you learn how to use PS, the more you can do to adjust the photo to what you see in your artist’s eye.

This is not something that is quick to do.  I find that I generally take a lot of time in figuring out the layers to use and which opacity works and how much to erase.  I also use different brushes on them, too.  I use a similar process in creating a fantasy land photo manipulation.

Now, where does one get these textures?  Well, there are places online that offer free photos you can download.  Most of them are just photos that have interesting elements or textures that someone photographed.  Can you do that yourself? Why yes you can!

Have a pile of leaves?  Take a picture of it!  A leather chair?  Take a picture of it!  Some rocks, tree bark, an open book, crumpled paper, brick, stucco, an old door???  Look around your house and see what would be an interesting texture.

Now, how does one put these picture into practice?

I like to start out with a picture that has a focal point.   There is something in that shot I would like to draw attention, and it needs to have an area around it that can allow me to lay in texture and other elements to make it interesting.   You can also use digital scrapbooking papers and elements in the same way.

Here is the SOOC shot that I chose:


This is what I did:

1.  My basic processing.

2.  I used the dodge tool to lighten the grass areas, and the desaturation tool to tone down the vibrant green.

3.  I added a few textures on top, and erased around her.  You don’t want the erasing to be too stark, so make sure the opacity on the brush is lower and the brush isn’t too big.

4. I added a hue/saturation layer and gave it a sepia tone.  The textures come with their own colors, so I find you really have to do a color adjustment at the end or else you have a bunch of non-matching colors.  Once I added the hue/saturation layer, I erased a bit around her to bring back some of the original color on Anya.

5. Next I added some fun swirls for the borders with different brushes. has tons of free brushes.  You just donwload them, unzip and put them in the brushes folder in PS.  Make sure the program is not up or your will need to restart it to have the brushes show up.  I always make sure to put them on a separate layer so I can adjust more easily.

6. Flatten layers and then it is done!  Now this may not have seemed like it took many steps but it took me at least an hour.  You are being artistic here, so it takes some time to figure out what looks right and what works.  Sometimes you have to go back and start over.  It’s a process.  I’m still not sure I’m in love with how this turned out, but it is what is now.  I didn’t have the energy to stare at the computer anymore…there’s lots of staring when you are trying to be artistic. 😉

 grunge girly girl

And another:

summer swirls

Let me know if you have any questions!

22 Replies to “Photography tips – adding texture to a photo”

  1. I am actually amazed at how much of the stuff is free these days. If you do a quick search, you can find just about anything for PS.

    Beautiful Anya. Oh, and good work. 😉

  2. Holy cow Stacy! Those are crazy cool. I JUST have discovered textures myself and I am smitten. I have a whole slew of images to share…hmmm…i wonder which I will post on Thursday.
    : )

  3. I shouldn’t have even bothered typing up my tutorial the other day – yours is awesome! These images are stunning. You already know I love the book one, but that second one is just gorgeous too. I love how you’ve put your own spin on textures, using frames and brushes to create a fairytale scene. Awesome.

  4. I LOVE THEM! (Hi! I’m back!!)
    I just started playing with textures for my new header, maybe I can use that for my Theme Thursday. I love the new brushes site tip, too…thanks!

    Off to catch up on everything I missed…

  5. You are SO talented! I love these shots and your site is looking fabulous. I think I need to buy a PhotoShop for dummies book and start at the beginning. *sigh* It would be so much easier if I could just borrow the PS portion of your brain for long enough to transfer the info into my own bean. 🙂

  6. Change of plans, no need for PS for dummies! I’m going through your tutorials starting at the beginning and things are turning out!! Thanks SO much!

  7. Thanks everyone on the compliments, and hope these instructions work for you all! 😀

    Jayna, that jumper that Anya is wearing is from Hartstrings. They have a very pretty line of clothes. 🙂

  8. what perfect timing – I just learned how to do texture from Christina last week, so I’m new to the process. I can’t wait to fool around with it this week.

  9. Stacy,
    Hi! I figured out the texture but am having trouble with the frame brushes. When you save them from deviant art, where do you save them to, and how do you apply it to the picture? Thanks, Mandy

  10. thank you so much for trying to teach us how to do these new creative ventures!! I am so grateful for people like you who take their time out for others! I love this texture/photo enhancing ideas… It’s like a whole new world!! I found you thru Tracey (my sister) from her blog & shutter sisters. I am so glad that she found you!! YAY GIRLS!!

  11. I’m learning blogging and really interested in photograpy w/photo’s thanks so much for your help. Would you mind if I add you to a favorite so I can keep looking back for more lessons?

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